Part Four

Who am I? You have heard me, calling
A thousand times your name.
And soft in falling is the summer rain
In first love, last, the same.

Tears, you know not how the tears come
Widespread as the dew.
And long through congress and contentment
Your arms have passed me through

In fey lands and fell lands, whenever
The winds abuse my name,
Constant as the clouded trees, the sky will serve
My purposes the same.

Contused the head or body, but
Bright hair blowing free,
Always there were strong legs walking as
The long day walked with me:

Across the lawns and council parks,
In shopping malls and cars,
Charlie had the most assiduous and charming
Chat-up line in bars.

On breakfast counters, in country clubs,
Where women gather or alone
Count out the ticking hours that come with
Email, fax or phone.

120. Long days spent on pavements till
The Bobbies moved me on,
Long days in wine bars and still smiling as
Each hand was touched and gone.

Remember with my training I
Could drop birds from the trees:
The lamp-posts listened and the curb stones all
Clustered at my knees.

I could make a cat laugh, the
Bereaved forget their cares,
And have a ladder to the stocking top
Return and say its prayers.

They looked at me and wondered as
I told them what they knew,
They looked at me astonished as I spoke
The heart's true billet-doux.

But here I was with the women, both
The soft-eyed and the hawk.
There were many, many more, and men as well
Who dropped by at my talk.

There was never a clear programme,
And how it worked at all
I do not know, and didn't ask, but went
From chair to lecture hall.

With always their donations, more
On evenings camped around
Some unassuming place with these well dressed folk
Sat flat upon the ground.

But there they were, and silent, mostly,
As embers burned away:
Into the heart of life they stared, and moodily
Time stole away.

And if you had your life again,
I'd ask, how would you change?
Or would be some lawyer, doctor, actor?
No, but it's been strange.

Reach out to them, be companionable
In one another's trust:
Take hands, both, and do, naturally,
As the body must.

130. I don't know how it was or why
But spoke of second sight.
And all had taken that slow sleeper out
Some long and flickering night.

The castle, drawbridge, turret room:
Bewildered, all had stayed
At that one room, and dressed and danced whole days
Astonished but not afraid.

They too had sensed that someone there
In dusk or driving rain,
They too had heard that voice speak on sadly
In that old refrain.

That truth is still there falling
Into faux pas, times in bed.
And I too spoke of the fire, Bab's death, the kiddie:
That heart is not the head.

Always we journey, I told them,
And more than we understand
To a place of quietness and acceptance that
For each is promised land.

This is our borne and our heaven,
There is no hope of other
Than the days coming and the days going, even
Sister as the brother.

We are the Lord's own fashioned garment
Who is the turning earth
And are His own living, fading and returning
To another birth.

To that end I opened a foundation
Whose funding still astounds
And was questioned, continually, on moral
And whatever grounds.

By which they will get me for flouting
The Trades Description Acts.
Which is to be expected, and was expected, and I
Don't quarrel with the facts.

I come before the courts next week
For embezzlement and theft
Of men's souls and the telling that afterwards
Little else is left.

140. I shall go down a long time to
Where Hades already is
To meet a congregation of great sinners
Who know not theirs from his.

So give me a company donation or
A tanner if you can,
And Charlie will bless you and keep you, poor
Charlie the travelling man.


part one     part two    part three    part four